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Alfalfa sprouts recalled

LOS ANGELES (May 24, 2010)—Investigators traced an outbreak of salmonella in 10 states to raw alfalfa sprouts distributed by a Los Angeles-based company, health officials announced on Saturday.

The Caldwell Fresh Foods of Maywood, Los Angeles was responsible for distributing the tainted vegetable which has sickened at least 23 people in 10 states, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) said.

The company has issued a voluntary recall of all alfalfa sprouts manufactured under the Caldwell Fresh Foods, Nature's Choice, and California Exotics brands, the department said.

"Once we learned of this recall, the LACDPH immediately reached out to food markets throughout the county to make sure that the potentially tainted product has been removed from shelves and destroyed," said Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, director of the health department.

"If you have purchased any of the recalled sprouts, discard them immediately. Caldwell products unaffected by the recall will have a bright green sticker affixed to their packaging to ensure that there is no confusion," he said.

So far, at least 23 people in 10 states have been sickened, 11 of them in California.

Though some of those sickened have been hospitalized, no one has died.

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection. The illness typically lasts four to seven days.

However, infants, elderly individuals and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop severe illness.

Alfalfa sprouts in general are a high risk food for these groups.

This is the 32th time since 1995 that alfalfa sprouts have caused an outbreak of food poisoning, prompting health officials to issue warnings.

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